rest in peace, baby.
snowball is named after a chicken that my neighbor owned, she was the only white one out of five brown hens, and i took a special liking to her. we didn’t visit the chickens much, out of the few years my neighbor was here, but sometimes my mom and i would go next door to visit when they’d be outside the coop. about two years time passed, and late last year, our neighbor moved, leaving the chickens to be bought with the house.
the new owner wasn’t nearly as experienced with chickens as the last, and didn’t care for them, as he was always out of town, so he began paying my family to feed them and water them.
there were two brown hens, now, as two had passed by means of natural causes, and snowball. they didn’t have names, as we called them by which color tag they had around their legs, but i decided to call the two light brown hens, cinnamon and toaster strudel. the new owner also decided to get two new hens, which were brown leghorns, which i named fern and juniper.
early on march fourth, my dad came into the kitchen to tell me that there was a dead chicken in my backyard. i had recalled seeing an oddly shaped object just past the fence separating our front yard from our back, when my boyfriend dropped me off from our ice skating date the night before, though i brushed it off as one of the stray cats laying around when my dogs weren’t out, because i couldn’t identify it from where i stood when i saw it.
i went out with him to see which one it was, and fern was laying there, blank eyes towards the sky. down feather was everywhere, but i couldn’t really reason a cause of death, as she didn’t seem to have any wounds. plus, we weren’t really sure of how she got over the fence separating our yard from my neighbor’s, as the fence is fairly tall for a chicken to scale. we figured she might’ve escaped the coop and was injured somehow during, but we never quite put our finger on the exact way she ended up in our yard. we gave her a proper burial, though.
nearly two weeks later, snowball started exhibiting signs of illness. she was laying around, by herself, not really eating or drinking. feces gathered around her tail feathers, the care takers for the house believed she was ‘egg-bound’ where a hen was due to lay an egg, but it gets stuck in her oviduct. we separated snowball from the other hens, and gave her a warm water bath, which was supposed to comfort the chicken. we contacted a friend of mine’s mom, who owned chickens, and drove snowball over to have her looked over, as we aren’t experts on chickens or any type of farm animal really, and she told us that the most we could probably do was keep her comfortable and in her own pen, because she was most likely going to pass.
we returned home, and left snowball in her own cage, with straw, food, water, and hoped for the best. we were convinced she was going to be gone in the morning, as she wasn’t moving at all, really, and barely kept her eyes open.
the next morning, she seemed to improve a lot, and over the next week, we tended to her, gave her warm water baths, and even bought her antibiotics to put in her water, in every single intention to get her back in good health. like i said, we aren’t experts, nor did we have the money to seek veterinary services, but, her behavior seemed to improve much more, and she looked healthier too; she started walking around, eating more, and even showing signs that she was rebounding from this.
on march 30th, i went next door to check on her with my boyfriend and my mom, feeding her, changing her water, and cleaning out her cage. she was perky, and even walking around.
later, we decided to go see Black Panther, and returned in the evening. my mom hadn’t been able to get on the phone with the owner of the property, for about a week’s time, as she was supposed to be paid for the work she was doing to the landscape, and everything we’d bought for the chickens, but it seemed as he was avoiding her calls. she finally got him on the phone that day, when my boyfriend and i came back from the movies, and i listened to them argue on the phone. he wanted pictures of the property and the improvement she made around the scape, as proof, because apparently there’d been some issues with the people he’d hire, and them not doing what he hired them for, but still wanting the money.
so, we walked over to the house to gather the pictures, and i decided to feed the fish first, as there’s a pond with two koi fish, and two goldfish, on the property as well, behind the main house.
as i approached snowball’s cage, i noticed she was on her side, sort of sprawled out, and it all around looked odd in general. i didn’t really grab onto what had happened until i got right up on her cage and looked at her face. she was laying there, fully on her side, pressed up against the wiring.. she was pale, and just.. gone. my heart sunk.
my boyfriend held me while i cried, and while my mom dug a hole for her. i was devastated, honestly. i had seen her just a few hours ago, and she was alive and clucking, and now, she was lifeless and cold. i took her out from the cage and wrapped her in one of the pillowcases we used for bedding in her crate. i said my last goodbyes to her, and it rained while we held a small funeral.
over the few months we’d been tending to these hens, they became like pets to me, snowball especially, as she was smaller than her ‘sisters’, and more gentle and somber. her crown was almost completely lopsided over to one side, and i thought it was simply adorable. when she became sick, i was usually the one to clean her cage, and replace her food and water, holding her in the baths. she would always perk up when i approached the cage, with my usual greeting of “hi, baby!”, she was most comfortable around me, i believe. i also believe that my family and i provided her with a happy ending, although she should still be alive today.